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The issue of a second crossing over Okanagan Lake was a topic of discussion on Tuesday at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver.
West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and members of council were provided a short face-to-face meeting with Premier Christy Clark and BC cabinet ministers. The group presented the premier and ministers with ongoing concerns with the proposed second crossing. One of the key concerns for West Kelowna is the study of the crossing and the bottlenecking of traffic through the Westbank Centre.
“We wanted to make sure the premier is aware of our interest in the province taking a hard look at improvements that are on the radar now and the bypass study to see what improvements are the most important and impactful,” said Findlater. “We emphasized to Premier Clark that our transportation master planning will be significantly impacted by this new corridor and other proposed improvements to the existing infrastructure.”
Findlater said the Premier understood that this issue is something the public is extremely interested in and said she will take a close look at the issue. Council is calling the meeting a small win for West Kelowna and its ongoing interest in improving the traffic through Westbank. Another ongoing concern for West Kelowna was raised with the premier; wildfire mitigation. West Kelowna wants the province to kick in more funding for wildfire mitigation in interface areas.
“We can’t keep spending the kind of money that we do on fighting forest fires instead of preventing them,” added Findlater. “We emphasized to the premier that the province should focus more efforts towards mitigation as soon as possible.”
Findlater said he may have found a different approach to take to help forest fire mitigation on private lands. He was approached at the UBCM convention by the Mayor of Clinton and the former Mayor of Nelson who provided information on a unique private partnership that has helped in their communities.
“They said the municipalities called together private interface landowners with logging companies. Together an agreement was struck where the logging companies would conduct prescribed forest fire mitigation on private lands in exchange for the rights over the trees being removed,” said Findlater. “That is an intriguing idea and something we will take back with us and investigate further.”
The UBCM convention runs from September 21st to 25th at the Vancouver Convention Centre with mayors and council members from all over the province in attendance.
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